Last Week in Slovenia: 22 - 29 July 2022

By , 30 Jul 2022, 14:10 PM Politics
Last Week in Slovenia: 22 - 29 July 2022

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What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

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FRIDAY, 22 July
        MOSCOW, Russia - Russia added Slovenia on the list of countries considered unfriendly by the Kremlin, which means Slovenia will no longer be allowed to hire employees for its diplomatic missions in Russia. The Foreign Ministry regretted the move, but said it had no effect on Slovenia's embassy in Moscow.
        LJUBLJANA - Andriy Taran, Ukraine's new ambassador, presented his credentials to President Borut Pahor, thus formally starting his service in Slovenia. Taran, a former Ukrainian defence minister, succeeds as ambassador Mykhailo Brodovych, who had served in Slovenia since 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed the European Commission's plan for EU countries to reduce gas consumption by 15% if necessary in response to the Russian gas supply crisis. Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Aleš Cantarutti quoted a survey finding Slovenia's industry could reduce gas consumption by 10%.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to rising Covid figures, the Covid-19 task force recommended for face masks to be be reintroduced in all indoor public spaces and that they become mandatory in healthcare institutions. They also urged vulnerable groups and those over 60 to work from home and get vaccinated.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved Slovenia's EUR 2.1 million scheme for state aid to primary food producers impacted by the war in Ukraine. Farmers will receive grants to cover higher prices of energy, animal feed, fuel and raw materials.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's banks, including market leaders NLB and NKBM, announced they will stop charging negative interest rates on large deposits of individuals and legal entities starting from 1 August, after the ECB raised its key interest rates.
        LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia deteriorated by 1.7 percentage points in July over June, and by 7.2 points year-on-year to -1.1 percentage points as consumer confidence worsened.

        LJUBLJANA - Vojko Volk, a seasoned diplomat and advisor to PM Robert Golob, told Večer in an interview that by entering the Schengen area, Croatia would, legally speaking, recognise the borders of the countries already in the area, including Slovenia, and thus indirectly the border arbitration award.
        BOVEC - Addressing the annual get-together of his Democratic Party (SDS), former PM Janez Janša expressed the confidence that the candidate supported by the SDS would win this year's presidential election while noting the party being as a rule successful in local elections, to be held in the autumn.
        LJUBLJANA - A tonne and a half of fish was found dead in Mali Graben, a river canal of the Gradaščica river in Ljubljana, in a second major incident in the Gradaščica after decomposing pork was found in the water a fortnight ago. A subsequent lab test could not confirm presence of toxic substances in the water samples, but lab officials believe the water was contaminated.

SUNDAY, 24 July
        KOSTANJEVICA NA KRASU - After more than a week, the wildfire in Kras, the largest ever in Slovenia, was brought under control. It affected over 3,500 hectares of wood and farmland but people's homes and lives were spared. In total more than 10,000 voluntary and professional firefighters and 1,200 support staff were involved in the effort along with aircraft from Slovenia, all four neighbouring countries as well as Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. Visiting the area PM Robert Golob announced a comprehensive plan to be drawn up to protect Kras against such fires in the future and President Borut Pahor praised the remarkable solidarity displayed by everyone involved. Pahor phoned the presidents of all the countries involved to thank them.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV showed the voter approval rating for the Robert Golob government falling by two percentage points to 51% in a month, and Golob's Freedom Movement polling slightly lower at 27.8% as the opposition Democrats (SDS) stayed put at 18.8%. The result suggests merging with the LMŠ and SAB had not paid off for the Freedom Movement.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw a natural decrease in population for the fifth consecutive year in 2021 as the number of births dropped to just 18,984, and 23,261 people died, Statistics Office data showed.
        PARIS, France - Tadej Pogačar, the 26-year-old Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider, failed to defend his two-time Tour de France title, finished as the runner-up to Dane Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma. Still, he won his third straight white jersey of the best young rider.

MONDAY, 25 July
        LJUBLJANA - Marjan Eberlinc, CEO of the gas transmission system operator Plinovodi, told Radio Slovenija that Slovenia was managing the gas supply situation very well given the developments in the wake of the war in Ukraine with no disruption to supply so far. He said there would be quite a few alternative options for Slovenia if Russia indeed cut off gas supply to Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 2,939 new cases of coronavirus in a nearly-four-month high as modelling expert Janez Žibert assessed the summer wave of infections had plateaued with the 7-day remaining at around 1,600 for a week. This was a day after the country saw the highest daily death toll among patients with Covid in more than three months, numbering eight.
        LJUBLJANA - Fresh data from the Statistics Office showed visitors spent almost two million nights in Slovenia's tourism accommodation facilities in June, which is nearly double year-on-year and a third of the total figure for the first half of 2022. The figures thus virtually reached pre-epidemic levels.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food temporarily protected at the national level a type of sheep milk cheese from the Istria region, Istrski ovčji sir/Istarski ovčji sir, using a protected designation of origin in a move initiated by Slovenian and Croatian sheep breeders.
        VELENJE - Fourteen miners sustained light injuries as a stope collapsed at the Velenje coal mine, but they managed to get out of the pit by themselves.
        LJUBLJANA - The safe-internet use portal released the results of a survey showing that one out of three female secondary school students, and one out of four girls at primary schools aged 12-15 had considered getting plastic surgery as a result of beauty standards posted on social media.
        LJUBLJANA - As part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of architecture mastermind Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana introduced a new city bus to visit 28 of the best known Ljubljana landmarks designed by him.

TUESDAY, 26 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said there would be no cuts to gas supplies to Slovenian households this winter after EU ministers in charge of energy agreed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas demand.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav, talking with the STA in an interview, listed staff shortages in the police force and restore the autonomy of the uniformed and criminal police and the National Bureau of Investigation as key challenges he is planning to take on.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav reappointed Darko Muženič director of the National Bureau of Investigation after he was dismissed in early May 2020 under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian authorities condemned the executions of four democracy activists in Myanmar in the strongest terms, with the Foreign Ministry tweeting that the military junta's actions represented an escalation of repression and their contempt for human rights.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pirate Party announced it will endorse lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar's bid in the 23 October presidential election under a decision taken by this non-parliamentary party at the 23 July congress.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved co-financing of public rental housing from the recovery and resilience plan for a total of 34 projects as part of which a total of 1,036 housing units will be constructed. The total amount of grants is EUR 60 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Under a plan approved by the government on 22 July, army and firefighting tank trucks started transporting water to the coastal region, which is facing shortages due to severe drought. In a EUR 2.85 million project water is being extracted from the river Unica, north of Postojna, and brought to a water works facility near Črni Kal to be treated. The first such operation in the country started just as the region got some of the much needed rain.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) and investment firm Meta Ventures reached an out-of-court settlement in a dispute over SSH's sale in 2020 of the state's 49% stake in Meta Ingenium, a company that at the time held 10.8% of biotech firm Bia Separations. SSH will get an additional EUR 2.09 million for the stake, plus variable part of the proceeds based on Bia Separations' results over next three years.
        KOPER - After being defrocked by the Vatican church court for sexually abusing a minor, former priest Anton Kmet will not be tried in Slovenia as the case became statute barred.
        CHISINAU, Moldova - The Slovenian football champions Maribor were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League qualifying, after being defeated by Moldova's FC Sheriff 0:1 on aggregate in the second round. They will now face HJK Helsinki in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

        KYIV, Ukraine - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon visited Ukraine to express Slovenia's support and solidarity with the country, meeting her counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko and investment office head Sergiy Tsivkach. She promised Slovenia's support both in dealing with the consequences of the war and efforts to join the EU. The next day she announced an additional package of aid for the country.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants said it had increased capacity in the Ljubljana asylum centre and moved vulnerable groups to the Logatec branch following a report by the web portal N1 that police had filed a criminal complaint over a rape of an underage girl there in early May and NGOs raised concerns over overcrowded and worrying conditions.
        LJUBLJANA - German flag carrier Lufthansa cancelled scheduled flights to and from Ljubljana due to a strike by ground staff that affected more than 1,000 flights from and to Munich and Frankfurt.
        AUGSBURG, Germany - Slovenia opened the 2022 Canoe Slalom World Championships successfully as Benjamin Savšek, Luka Božič and Anže Berčič won the gold medal in the men's C1 team event and Eva Terčelj, Ajda Novak and Eva Alina Hočevar won silver the women's kayak team event.

        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to reduce VAT on electricity, natural gas, firewood and district heating for all consumers from 22% to 9.5%. The lower rate will apply for the heating season, from 1 September to 31 May next year. The lower VAT will result in EUR 130 million less budged receipts.
        NOVA GORICA - The Solkan Hydropower Plant was temporarily shut down due to extremely low flow of the Soča river caused by prolonged drought. The plant realised only 54% of the planned output in the first half of the year, similar as power plants on the Drava and Sava.
        LJUBLJANA - The government tasked the Ministry of Defence to draw up a damage assessment report in the wake of the wildfire in Kras based on which Slovenia will seek aid from the EU Solidarity Fund.
        NEW YORK, UN - The UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right. The resolution was proposed by a group of countries, with Slovenia playing a significant role as a co-leader of the process.
        LJUBLJANA - After filing for referenda challenging the new laws on the government and the public broadcaster, the opposition Democrats (SDS) initiated procedures for a referendum a law delaying the implementation of the long-term care act, which was passed under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The police administration announced that staff from the new motorway police units in Koper, Celje and Maribor will be temporarily assigned to the respective road traffic police stations on 1 August due to severe staff shortages. This leaves only the Ljubljana motorway police unit operational.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia improved its ranking in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index placing eleventh in what is the best result so far. It is above EU average

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